Dover Century Club has long history of service

At Dover Days, the Dover Century Club welcomes guests to its Victorian Ice Cream Parlor each year. Shown, in the spring, are then-President Blanche Carey, Delaware State Federation of Women’s Clubs President Carolyn Forbes, member Mary Mills and current president Jane DiMondi. The club has been meeting at 40 The Green, Dover, since 1901. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines and days of thanksgiving …

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The motto of the Dover Century Club is “Gently to Hear – Kindly to Judge” and it appears that it has served the group well for 121 years.

The current membership is 83 strong, and the women range in age from 30 to 95.

Meeting regularly in a historic clubhouse on The Green, the women enjoy regular meetings and get-togethers all with the intent of making the community a better place to live.

Since May, Jane DiMondi has been president.

“It’s a big challenge,” she said, “but it’s for a good cause.”

She has been a member for five years and loves the group’s commitment to helping organizations such as the Salvation Army, Code Purple, Interfaith, Shepherd Place, The Arc of Delaware, Stockley Center.

Annually, the group contributes to scholarships, youth leadership programs and donates to the Dover children’s library.

This past week, the group wrapped up a collection of shoe donations for Soles4Souls.

“I have found that people are willing to give if they know it’s a worthwhile cause,” said Mrs. DiMondi. “The goal is community improvement through volunteerism. And it’s a goal that is exceeded so many times.”

A club booklet features the names of all of its presidents since 1897 and it reads as somewhat of a “who’s who” of prominent Dover women. Another page relates its accomplishments — such as establishing free libraries in the 1900s, playgrounds in the 1910s, restoration of the Dickinson Plantation in the 1940s.

Each new president selects a project.

“Mine is assisting seniors,” said Mrs. DiMondi. “The emphasis is on companionship. We’re going to an assisted living place, Westminster Village, in Dover.”

Mrs. DiMondi said Century Club members will take time to do puzzles or play games with them, or just talk, listen and sometimes document their stories.

“It neat because it’s good for both the Century Club members and residents. They have so much knowledge and so many memories to pass on, and often there are not many people to listen to them.”

This editor had a chance to share the story of the Delaware State News with the club Wednesday in the clubhouse at 40 The Green.

The Dover Century Club bought the building, which has a distinctive Greek Revival architecture and Palladian window, in 1901 – four years after the club was organized.

The building dates back to 1850 when it was a Baptist church. It still has two choir lofts and a stage on its second floor.

“We’re fortunate to have that house,” said Ms. DiMondi. “We try and maintain it and try and support it. It’s a charming old building.”

Some improvements were recently made with grant money from the Longwood Foundation, and there are plans to do even more. There may be benefits to an air conditioning system to boost rentals of the property.

The public gets a chance to visit the Dover Century Club during the 18th Century Market Fair each November and Dover Days each May.

During Dover Days, children and parents delight in visiting the club’s Victorian ice cream parlor.

“I have actually talked to parents who bring their kids there for an ice cream cone and their parents did the same thing as them when they were young,” said Mrs. DiMondi.

The club also used to be a canteen and it brings back many memories for people who went to dances there.

Mrs. DiMondi said the group’s meetings, trips and activities keep them busy and she believes the club will continue for another century despite modern society’s decline in volunteerism.

“It’s harder to get members but we just keep chasing them,” said Mrs. DiMondi. “We’ve had seven new ones since last fall.”

One of its newer members, Sherry Pelton, started a stitching group in the club a little over a year ago. In about 5,000 volunteer hours, the group of 11 has knitted or crocheted 320 items – scarves, hats, gloves, blankets and more – for donation to Bayhealth, Code Purple, nursing homes and others.

“We do have a lot of fun,” she said. “If you can’t have fun, it’s not worth doing.”

For more information about the Dover Century Club, call (302) 674-3775.

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In addition to the Dover Century Club, this editor also enjoyed presenting to the Marydel Lions Club last week and learning more about their community service and charitable donations.

Thank you to club president Terry Higgins for the invitation, and thank you to club chef and Lion Betty Richard for an outstanding Eastern Shore-style dinner in the Marydel Community Hall, which many years ago served as a school house.

The Marydel Lions are celebrating 70 years of service in the Mason-Dixon Line community.

In both the visits to the Lions Club and Dover Century Club, it was heartwarming to hear how our community news listings have been beneficial in raising interest and awareness for their activities.

If your group would enjoy a presentation on the Delaware State News’ history and mission, please contact this editor at awest@newszap.com.

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Last week’s good times also included dinner with the Public Affairs team of the 436th Airlift Wing, Dover Air Force Base.

The occasion was celebration of the Airlifter’s first-place award for printed publication in the 2017 U.S. Air Force Media Contest.

The Delaware State News, in a collaborative effort with Team Dover, handles production of the base’s newspaper.

The winning edition was the Sept. 1, 2017, Airlifter that featured outstanding photography of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and more at the Dover Air Force Base open house.

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It likely goes without saying to our subscribers and regular single-copy buyers, but the “big” day is almost here.

Thursday’s Delaware State News is our annual “stuffed” Thanksgiving edition with hundreds of shopping ideas and savings galore inside.

As a new twist this year, one of the sections will have advertisements on one side and a cool holiday gift wrap on the other side.

Heather Cregar, who handles marketing and promotions for the Delaware State News, says, “It’s very cute and will give our readers the chance to ‘go green’ with a seasonal flair this year. When they return home from all their shopping on Black Friday and Shop Small Business Saturday, they can start their wrapping early.”

Andrew West is executive editor of the Delaware State News.

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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